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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Evans: 'We don't need to cheat'

I've got a story up on talking to Georgia AD Damon Evans about the recent bickering around the SEC regarding everything from assistant coaches to recruiting violations. Read the story, but here's the complete Q&A from this part of my interview with Evans. I'll have more with Damon on a wide variety of topics later this week...

Hale: Tennessee and Auburn came pretty hard after some of your assistants, guys I'm sure you and Coach Richt wanted to keep. Neither of your guys left, but both of those schools ended up landing some high-profile assistants at some really big salaries. Do you think the economic paradigm for assistants has changed, and how will Georgia adjust to it?

Evans: I think it has changed at certain institutions. As of late, we've had three to four institutions that have done some significant changes -- Tennessee, Auburn and Washington. You've got the national-championship Florida Gators, and you don't hear these grandiose salaries come out of there.

My philosophy is this: We want to keep up with the marketplace. Three institutions don't set the marketplace from my standpoint. They have to do what they feel is appropriate for them, but what I like to do is look at the big picture and see where everyone is big picture and ask, where is Georgia in that marketplace: Lower, middle or upper? Wherever we are, do we feel comfortable with where we are? That's the question I have to answer every day. I tend to believe that we have kept our coaches in a good position in the marketplace.

Do I think that marketplace is going to change? Yes, I think it's going to change. Will we at Georgia do what's appropriate for the University of Georgia with regard to that marketplace? Yes, at the right time, but I'm not going to overreact to what a handful of schools have done.

And I'll add this: Those schools that have done that are all the schools that were in positions where they had to fire their coach, and there's now pressure to bring in a coach and try to build these staffs. I've said it before -- does more money guarantee you more wins? You, as an institution, have to decide. Maybe for Tennessee, what they pay, they think is right. Maybe for Washington, they think it's right. The same for Auburn. You just have to get to a point where you say, is what we're offering fair to our coaches? That's what I want to do. I want to make sure our coaches feel good. I don't want them to be the lowest paid. And I said this to our head coach, I'm not going to overreact to one or two institutions. I just won't do that.

DH: Lane Kiffin has been in the news a lot the last couple weeks with criticisms of several other SEC programs, including Georgia. You read the message boards, listen to talk radio, and you hear all kinds of stuff that varies from fact to vague interpretations of the truth. First off, have there been any recruiting violations at Georgia that you are aware of, and secondly, what do you think when other programs make accusations or insinuations about Georgia that manage to work their way into the national discussion?

DE: As far as violations, and talking specifically football, I have the utmost confidence in Mark Richt, and I know he does things the right way, and that's never a concern.

Are there violations? Yes, because they're secondary violations and that's what they are -- secondary in nature. The definition of those violations are inadvertent violations where you make a mistake. You're only allowed to call a kid once a week, and you got mixed up where Coach X called and Coach Y called, so now we weren't on the same page and that's a violation. So we have violations, and I don't know what the number of those are, but they're inadvertent.

The other thing that I go back and say is, if you don't have any violations at your institution, in my humble opinion, you don't have a good system of checks and balances in place because people are going to make mistakes.

I truly believe that the secondary violations that occur here are inadvertent, they're mistakes that are made, and I have the utmost confidence that our staff is not that way. We have a guy leading us who has a high level of integrity and we're in a place where we don't need to cheat to have success here, so I don't get caught up in what people say because it's like a snowball -- someone can say one thing, but it's what I know and how I feel, and I feel great about how our football staff conducts its business.

DH: Obviously it makes my job a lot easier when there is the back-and-forth between coaches, but does it bother you at all?

DE: I'm serious about making sure we're doing things the right way and we're mindful of the rules, but when it comes to he said, she said, I don't really pay any of that any attention. That's part of college athletics, and some fans will say they're doing this at Alabama, they're doing this at Georgia... as long as I know what's going on and I'm comfortable with how we conduct our business, I'm fine.


JasonC said...

I doubt he would do it, but I wonder if Garner would comment on his interviews at AU and Tenn and his thoughts on what those 2 programs are doing and where they are headed.

David Hale said...

That's a good question, and unfortunately our access to coaches is a bit limited this time of year. I'll see if I can get some time with him next week though. The AJC's Michael Carvell spoke with him last week regarding Marlon Brown, etc., and Garner pretty much stuck to discussing what he does and didn't talk much about UT. I'll see what I can track down though.

Anonymous said...

Did you mean to list Searls as o coordinator in your article? I'm guessing that's due to his "run game coordinator" designation...

David Hale said...

Ah, I meant Offensive Line Coach, but I'm not bright and I'm easily distracted by shiny objects on the ground, etc.

Tommy said...


Other than claiming we're sleeping on in-state prospects, has Kiffen really gone after us about recruiting? Has he accused Georgia of anything?

David Hale said...

He hasn't specifically accused Georgia of wrong doing, but he criticized Marlon Brown's decision based on his grandmother's relationship with Richt (which makes no sense to me) and various UT message boards and talk radio have been trumpeting Georgia's supposed 17 recruiting violations (which is untrue). Moreover, ESPN's Chris Low noted in his blog last week that several SEC schools -- not just UT -- have been turning each other in for NCAA recruiting violations, too. Again, I don't think the specifics are ever at issue -- its that perception, after a while, starts to become reality when the rumors are constantly being spread -- particularly when coaches offer their support to the rumors.

cousinwalter said...

I really really hope we stomp Tennessee in Knoxville this fall. If this guy, Kiffin, becomes successful he is going become more annoying than Spurrier ever was.

I realize as a blogger, I benefit significantly from his loud mouth idiocy but after a while your like enough all ready.

Again, I really hope we kick the crap out of them in Knoxville. I hope we call timeouts late in the 4th quarter like Urban Meyer did to us.